The Road Hammers

The Road Hammers

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When you cultivate a sort of Motörhead-meets-Charlie Daniels visual image but all of your songs have to do with the joys and sorrows of driving a truck, then you're shooting for a pretty narrow demographic. That's not to say the demographic isn't there, but it may not be who you think it is. The group most likely to be attracted by the Road Hammers are the ironic-trucker-hat kids, the ones who get a kick out of Big Rig songs because they're hokey in a hip way, whereas the real truck-driving fans, the Hank Snow and Jerry Reed crowd, are probably going to have a hard time getting past the tattoos, the pointy sideburns, and the presence (however tasteful) of a theremin. But that's not the Road Hammers' most urgent problem. What they really need to deal with is the fact that although they play with real skill and sing with resonant energy, they sound like they're still trying to settle into a sound of their own. They give the Del Reeves classic "Girl on the Billboard" a fun, raunchy Bakersfield tinge, and they generate nice momentum on "Overdrive" (despite one of the dumbest opening couplets ever to besmear the beginning of a country song), but too often it feels like they're casting about for a groove to settle into. Their take on Jerry Reed's "East Bound and Down" just reminds you how much fun Jerry Reed songs are when he does them; "Call It a Day" is the worst kind of soggy road-warrior-longing-for-home bathos, and when they call out the rednecks on "Nashville Bound" it comes across as a really bad marketing decision. The album ends on three successive notes of unspeakable lameness: a reprise of the title track (why?), followed by several minutes of audio bloopers (why?), followed by a track titled "Absolutely Nothing" -- seven seconds of silence. (Dudes, seriously. Why?) These guys have got definite promise, but they're still a ways from realizing it.

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